In my case, reading has always served a dual purpose. In a positive sense, it offers sustenance, enlightenment, the bliss of fascination. In a negative sense, it is a means of withdrawal, of inhabiting a reality quarantined from one that often comes across as painful, alarming or downright distasteful. In the former sense, reading is like food; in the latter, it is like drugs or alcohol.
In Autobibliography, Rob Doyle recounts a year spent rereading fifty-two books - from the Dhammapada and Marcus Aurelius, via The Tibetan Book of the Dead and La Rochefoucauld, to Robert Bolano and Svetlana Alexievich - as well as the memories they trigger and the reverberations they create. It is a record of a year in reading, and of a lifetime of books.
Provocative, intelligent and funny, it is a brilliant introduction to a personal canon by one of the most original and exciting writers around. It is a book about books, a book about reading, and a book about a writer. It is an autobibliography.
Praise for Autobibliograhy
‘An incisive, original critic, Doyle invites you down the rabbit-hole of his reading life, only for you to find that the books on the shelf are just the bait; the autobiographical asides, parentheses and margin notes draw you in to the real story - because this is ultimately a work of self-revelation. Something so unclassifiable, so formally subversive, should have been doomed for its very daring. But Autobibliography is never dull, never complacent - there is the joy of intellectual excitement on every page’ Philip Ó Ceallaigh
‘Rob Doyle belongs to the happy few for whom literature is religion’ Paul Lynch
‘Rob Doyle’s writing touches the heart, but it reaches it circuitously, grazing the spleen along the way. And when it does reach the heart, it wrenches it from its hammock of vessels. How does he do it? Autobibliography is a self-audit of, and insight into, the making of this most fascinating of writers and his visceral, cerebral, spiritual prose’ Gavin Corbett
‘The kind of book that I never want to get to the end of, functioning not only as a blistering, candid, ardent self-portrait but also as a compassionate guide to the joy of reading, the agony of writing, and the odd, anxious spaces in between’ Lisa McInerney
‘For those nosy lit freaks who surreptiously check out people's shelves, Autobibliobiography is a godsend, and a totally addictive one at that. Whether writing about the constituent texts of his personal canon, or the stuff of his own life, Rob Doyle is equallly incisive, rigorous and funny’ Wendy Erskine
‘Autobibliography is a bold and unique proposition by a writer of restless creativity and intelligence: A disarming and provocative sequence of self-reflections tethered to a collection of brief, intense love letters to literature’ Mark O’Connell
‘Rob Doyle is consistently one of the most invigorating and revelatory writers around. Everything he publishes offers an original take on life in the 21st century, while also traversing the perilous chasms of the culture wars with guile and wit. Perhaps more than anything, Doyle reminds us that the role of the writer in this fast-changing and often absurd world is as vital as ever’ Benjamin Myers